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October 1, 2012

Feds seeking lengthy prison terms for two who "shamelessly exploited" Michigan's medical marijuana law

This brief AP article reports on the severe sentences being sought by federal prosecutors this afternoon in a sentencing of a father and son involved in marijuana cultivation in Michigan.  Here are the details:

Federal prosecutors are seeking many years in prison for a Monroe County father and his son who were convicted of growing marijuana in greenhouses.  Gerald Duval Jr. and son Jeremy Duval are returning today to Detroit federal court.  The government says they "shamelessly exploited" Michigan's medical marijuana law to try to get around a federal ban on pot.

Prosecutors are recommending nearly 16 years in prison for the elder Duval and 14 years for his son. The greenhouses on Ida Center Road in Monroe County were approximately 100 feet long and 50 feet wide.

The Duvals admit they were growing marijuana but insist it was for medicinal use under Michigan law. Jeremy Duval says he thought the large operation was protected.

I fully understand (though do not fully condone) the views of federal prosecutors who believe it is a justifiable use of federal resources to vigorously pursue persons who willfully endeavor to violate federal law flagrantly under the cover of questionable state laws.  That said, I do not fully understand (and I do fully condemn) the belief by federal prosecutors that these defendants should serve more than a decade in prison for this kind of behavior.  Unless and until there is reason to believe these defendants pose a real threat to public safety (or there are some special aggravating circumstances), the harms of adding more bodies to an already over-crowded federal prison system (including the costs to federal taxpayers) that would result from such long federal prison terms seem to surely outweigh any obvious benefits.

UPDATE:  According to this follow-up AP piece Gerald Duval Jr was "sentenced to 10 years in prison ... Monday by Detroit federal Judge David Lawson, while Jeremy Duval is returning to court Tuesday." As suggested above, though well below what federal prosecutors sought, this decade-long prison sentence still strikes me as potentially "greater than necessary" to serve federal sentencing purposes unless there are serious aggravating factors or evidence that Gerald Duval is a threat to public safety.

I am hopeful the media might report on these sentencings further after Jeremy Duval is sentenced today, at which time I may do further posts on this case.

October 1, 2012 at 02:30 PM | Permalink

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Comments

This is why the sentiment for legalization is growing. Prosecutorial excess is becoming more visable daily.

Posted by: beth | Oct 1, 2012 3:34:56 PM

I agree completely, Douglas. The absence of a sense of proportionality or discretion on the part of federal prosecutors has become a serious problem, as is a deeper trend toward the use of prosecutions as a political tool untethered to any concept of justice.

At the extreme, the DOJ will be devoted to cases like Pussy Riot in Russia. (At the same time, Obama versions of FISA and PATRIOT laws resemble the recent passage of a law in Russia's Parliament that effectively allows investigative journalists and groups receiving aid from foreign NGO's to be prosecuted as traitors.)

We aren't as bad as Russia yet, but vindictive, purely political prosecutions such as this one -- against father and son growers of medicinal marijuana that was legal under state law -- are another step in that direction.

Meanwhile let's look at the current tally of the Obama DOJ. On the one hand, you have zero prosecutions or meaningful investigations of banking executives such as Angelo Mozilo, Jon Corzine or Dick Fuld. On the other hand, you have endless resources expended on this father and son, Mexican farmworkers, Barry Bonds, John Edwards, Roger Clemens, online poker, and whistleblowers.

It's not at Pussy Riot levels quite yet, but we're getting pretty close.

Posted by: Jonas | Oct 1, 2012 3:42:30 PM

close? i think we passed the line about a lightyear back!

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 1, 2012 6:28:53 PM

Let this be a lesson to those "Medical" suppliers in new states and DC that THINK they are immune because of State Law...you are exposed as a naked J Bird...the feds will arrest and prosecute you regardless. If it was about medicine and care they would be growing the ultra Low THC version... but you cant get high on that hybrid...

Posted by: DeanO | Oct 2, 2012 8:22:30 AM

There is little question that the situation with federal prosecutors in the US is significantly more serious than anything seen recently in Russia. Unlike Russia, the US purports to be the world leader in "freedom," "liberty," etc. The land of the free? It is absolutely Orwellian.

Posted by: Barry | Oct 3, 2012 3:10:04 PM

look at how many people have died in alcohol related accidents and how many have died to marijuana. Marijuana helps people where alcohol kills people.

Posted by: Unknown | Oct 3, 2012 10:09:21 PM

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